Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Blessings~

He is Risen Indeed!
We have much to celebrate this Resurrection Sunday!  Because Jesus is ALIVE,  our faith is not in vain~ as Christ followers, we have HOPE!
Besides celebrating Jesus today, we are also celebrating Emily!  As one of her friends told her this morning, "How perfect that your birthday would fall on Easter, because I don't know anyone who shines the light of Jesus as you do!"
So lots of celebrating going on here today.
Which includes lots of chocolate! It's a sweet, sweet day!
Friends, if you have a moment, would you be willing to leave some birthday wishes and encouragement for my biggest oldest girl?  She's 20 today, and many of you have been following her blog since she was just 13 years old! I know it would brighten her day.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Questions Answered~

Answers to the Keene questions!
Goodness, a popular post, it seems! And as I hit publish, I thought to myself, now who is going to care about the shoes my kids wear? :)
Yes, Jean, we love us some crocs, too!  Charlie has not been able to wear them and has always had the Keenes.  His foot is misshapen, and the crocs don't mold to his feet and he can't hold them on very well.  But for the girls, crocs have been a hit and a good "one play shoe per season" kind of shoe for us.  The reason I'm switching the girls over to the Keene's is because they are sturdier and fill the gap of not having tennis shoes.  We're not big time hikers, but when we do go to the mountains, I feel like the crocs are not as sturdy as I'd prefer.  Also, when we play in the river, they are slipperier on the rocks. 
They are easy on and off; of course they don't slide on and off as crocs do, though.  But for the littles, there is Velcro, and when you hit size 1, they just pull on and off. (at least the style I bought does)
Yes, $50 is not cheap.  But, this one pair of shoes does it ALL.  No need to buy tennis shoes AND sandals, though I do buy "dress" shoes for Sundays and any other time a nicer shoe is needed.  So given the fact that I'm not buying any other type of play shoe, AND given the fact that they'll be able to be handed down, I don't consider them to be expensive at all.
Jean, like you, our winter go-to shoes are the UGG knock offs. (I think I read that on your blog) I buy them at Target, and my girls get 2 seasons out of them.  I think they run about $30.  They are cute with jeans, leggings and skirts!  Love them!  Again, another all in one type shoe.
And yes, Leslie, I do hand down shoes. Though since we have only one pair of play shoes and they usually last 2 seasons, they are often too ratty to hand down.  The crocs have handed down well, and Ellie is wearing crocs now that both AC and Kate wore for more than one season each.  The "UGG" boots get kind of nasty, so those are not generally handed down, though I have in a pinch. :)  Church shoes are always handed down!
As far as whether the Keene's are "in style" for the older kids.  We tend to hang with a more....hmmm..... not sure how to put it..... outdoorsy type crowd?  A crowd that dresses girls modestly and for active play.  A crowd that is not high fashion. :)  Many of my friends dress their kids in LL Bean and Land's End clothes, and the Keene's are big in that circle. In fact some mamas wear them, too.  No, they are not the peak of fashion, but kids around the 12, 13, 14 year old age do wear them.  They probably are not big past 14-ish, though.  Grace does not care at all about fashion (she likes to wear her jeans, a few favorite shirts that she rotates every day and she's happy, no matter how many shirts are hanging in her closet, each season she tends to find 3 or so favorites and repeats them over and over) and she's a very "young" 13 year old. She likes to dress comfortably and she's ACTIVE.  She loves the crocs and Keene's. I am sure that the kids getting on the middle school bus, at the end of my street though, are not wearing crocs or Keene's. Nor would the girls be wearing the knock off UGGS~ they'd be wearing the real thing. But in our homeschooling circle they are just fine, and she fits right in!

And as to where I buy their shoes?  Free shipping both ways.  Excellent customer service.  I buy nearly everything online.  I was once a "shopper" but now with the kids in tow, I HATE to go to the mall.  I buy all the children's shoes except the "Uggs" (which I get from Target) at Zappos.

All the children's clothes are from Hanna, Mini Boden, Land's End or LL Bean.  We are due to have a Hanna store open at a nearby mall very soon, so I will go to the mall for that reason to save on shipping, as I do feel like the Hanna shipping rates are high.  I hand down clothes between the 3 little girls, so I don't mind paying a little more (though I always try to buy when some sort of promotion is going on) because I know with these companies, the clothes will last.  And if they don't, they ALL have excellent customer service.      

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Gotta Love~



Comfy & Durable

A sandal that protects little toes

Can be worn:
to the pool


to the river

scooter riding

to the lake


rock climbing

on the boat

at the beach

Yep, one shoe can be worn for ALL of our summer fun!

Shoes don't get more practical than that!

Sizes 8, 9, 12, 1, & 2

Bought with a click and delivered right to my front door.  It doesn't get better than that!

Now we just need some warmer weather!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sissy's Home~

So, toward the end of Feb. Emily mentioned that she might come home that first weekend in March.  But she wasn't sure.  I've been parenting teens for a while now, and I have learned that teen plans are {ahem} fluid.  I hadn't heard one way or another, so the morning of Emily's "maybe" arrival, I gave her a call to find out the plans.  We were en route to Greenville, for an appointment at Shriner's for Charlie's feet.
So, the call goes something like this.  
Me: Hi honey, hadn't heard your final plans for the weekend yet.....
Em:  I'm still not sure.
Me: Ummmm, well today's the day, right?
Em:  Yes.  I've got my car loaded just in case, and I'm on my way to class. I thought I'd decide when I get out of class.
Me:  OK.....Well, are you leaning one way or the other?  Maybe yes, since you've got the car packed already?  
Em:  I'm REALLY wanting to come home, but I have a stats test on Monday.  And I REALLY need to study.  And it's hard at the house with all the kids.
Me: Well that's true.  What's your grade like in stats right now?
Em: I've got an "A" right now, but it's borderline. 
Bill in background:  Tell her to stay at school and study and not sacrifice her grade for a weekend home and 11 wasted hours of driving.  And she'll save on gas. (and can you tell who pays for Emily's gas???)
Em:  I'm feeling like y'all don't WANT me home.
Me: Of course we want you home, honey.  But it IS a lot of driving for a short time.  And we won't  be in 'til this evening.  And daddy is flying to Denver on Sun. morning. And I have lunch plans with a friend on Sat. afternoon.  But yes, honey we REALLY want you to come home.  If you want to.  And if you think you can study for the test.
Em: Gosh, mom, it sounds like I'm not wanted.  Does anyone want me home???
AnnaClaire in background:  Tell Sissy to come home.  We want Sissy!
Others in background begin chanting:  Sissy home!  Sissy home!  Sissy home!
OK, then.  Sissy came home!
And that stats test?  My girl aced it!  And did I mention her 4.0 last semester? Well, just in case I hadn't.....yeah, well just in case....
SO glad my girl came home!      

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Firehouse Fieldtrip~

  We've not done as many field trips in our homeschool as I would have hoped.  It seems difficult to fit them in with 4 of the children participating in a swim program 2x a week, right after lunch. 2 are in choir, which meets in the afternoon and one has dance, also meeting in the afternoon. And then we've got Charlie's speech schedule to work around and then of course, there's the schooling, and nap time, and medical appointments, and schooling, and, and, and....

I'm really not one to overstress about book work, BUT I just feel like we've got SO much catching up to do with Grace.  And Charlie.  I fully believe that an education involves MUCH, MUCH more than book work, BUT these children do need to learn the 3 R's! 

A friend from swimming mentioned earlier in the week that she had planned a trip to the fire station for her homeschool group, but not many had signed up to attend, so she was opening it up to other families not involved with her group.  It was for a Friday, and we have no outside activities on Fridays, plus the fact that my crew had never visited a fire station before, so we decided to join in on the fun!

The day dawned picture perfect.  Just look at that Carolina blue in the background of the fire station's flags! Makes you want to move here, doesn't it??? 

First we learned a lot of fire safety rules, and it became rather apparent that this is an area that we've sorely neglected at our house. Yes, we've got smoke detectors, but that's about it.  I left with the homework to implement a fire evacuation plan, set a family meeting spot, and to have family fire drills.  And our kids could not have been more excited to hear that we needed to be having family fire drills!  Ha!
Next we toured the station and saw the kitchen, the TV room, the rooms where the firefighters sleep and where they stored their belongings, their workout room (because firefighters are STRONG!) and we visited the "Watch Room."
We also saw a firefighter get dressed layer by layer in his gear, so we could still see he was still the same friendly fire fighter even with all of his scary looking gear on.
We got to hold the fire helmet to see how HEAVY it was!
And then it was on to the most exciting part~ getting to SEE and climb in the fire trucks! 
We listened to the loud siren and saw the bright lights....
posed for a photo....

And then finally, we went back inside to receive our own helmets and badges!

Such fun!  And we learned a lot!  Yes, even this  mommy learned a lot!
After our time at the station we met for a picnic lunch and playtime at a nearby park.  I left my camera in the car and just enjoyed the beautiful day outdoors with the children~ so  no photos of that part!
We left with Charlie saying, "This was the best day EVER, Mommy" and with me realizing the importance of putting away the school books on occasion to spend time learning in a different way.  My kids WILL learn to read and write and learn their math facts.  Sometimes we just need to get out and have some fun with other families.  After all, THAT's one of the reasons why we've chosen to homeschool! 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Breakfast for Dinner~

Tonight we had breakfast for dinner.  We eat this usually once a week. (breakfast for dinner, once a week, NOT this exact meal once a week)  We all love "big" breakfast food, but I'm not much on cooking a hot meal in the morning.  Although toasted breads and Cream of Wheat are both hot, they are in my morning repertoire, but not much else that's hot is.

Our dinner was really not photo worthy, except that it included 2 of my favorite recipes.  Which I wanted to share with you.  And I usually like a picture to accompany a recipe that I see posted, so I thought I'd do the same for you. 
The first recipe came to me 27+ years ago when I was a new bride working at a daycare in MN.  My very first day there, I met my friend Nancy.  Both of us had Elem. Ed. degrees and were unable to find a "real" teaching position mid-year.  We were both newly married (within 2 weeks of each other) and both new to Minneapolis.  
She was outside with her class, and I, outside with mine.  I heard a sweet voice call over the fence to me saying, "I've got a really good stuffed green pepper recipe I'd like to share with you."  Yep, that's how we met.  And we still laugh about it today.  Over those first words of stuffed green peppers, a friendship began that has lasted 27+ years. 
Tiny, cute, perfectly groomed and dressed Nancy. Nancy from the big family and married to the artist.  And the not so tiny, cute, nor perfectly dressed, only child me, who was married to the "businessman."  We were perfectly suited for each other!
Together, we shared the "trials" of early marriage (she being SO worried that she was married to an "artist" and feeling SO poor, and I can't remember what my trials even were, though I'm sure there were plenty) and of being so far away from our families. If Nancy's husband had to be out of town, she slept in our guest room, since she hated to be alone.  We did everything together either as "the girls" or with our husbands. She was by my side as I journeyed into motherhood. I was by her side (although not literally) as her daughter battled cancer while in college. (And praise God, she's a SURVIVOR!)  
We were together for only 4 1/2 years in MN.  And then Bill's job took us TX.  And we have never lived near each other since.  There have been numerous family vacations over the years, girl weekends together, visits to each other's houses, and many, many hours on the phone.  As our kids grew older and had  schedules of their own, it became much more difficult to get together, so it's actually been many years now since we've seen each other face to face. But we are still faithful to call. And of course THEY are now empty nesters and WE are not!  Nancy teaches preschool, and I have a preschooler of my own! We've shared the highs and lows of life, and no matter how much time passes between our phone calls, we can pick up right where we left off.  That's how it is with BFFs. Kindred spirits. Friends for life. 
Oh, and that "poor artist" husband of hers, well, he's got a name~ Darrell Bush~ and they are not so poor anymore. :)
Ok, my ramble is over and back to the recipe....which is from Nancy.  And it's not the stuffed green pepper recipe.  This one is for Potato- Sausage Quiche~
Otherwise known at our house as:
Egg Casserole
1 bag of shredded hash browns
1# bulk pork sausage
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
2 C shredded cheddar cheese
10 eggs, well beaten
2 C  1/2 & 1/2 
Pat thawed hash browns into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Bake at 375 for20-30 minutes. 
Meanwhile, brown the pork sausage and set aside.  Mix together 10 eggs and the 1/2 & 1/2 and set aside. 
After the hash browns come out of the oven, spread the cooked sausage over the hash browns.  Layer the 2 cheeses over the sausage, and pour the egg mixture on top of all.  Bake for about 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven, making sure the eggs are set.  After taking out of the oven, cover with foil and let stand about 10 minutes before cutting. 
This is a simple, not fancy at all, egg casserole that my family loves.  And no, it is not low cal. You can half the recipe and bake it in a pie plate.
My next recipe has no long story to it.  Just one I found years ago in a copy of Yankee Magazine.  The recipe is from Chatham Cookware, on Cape Cod.  It also is a tried and true family favorite. These muffins are SOOOOO yummy!
French Breakfast Muffins
1 1/2 C + 2T flour
3/4 C sugar
2t baking powder
1/4t salt
1/4t nutmeg
1/2 C milk
1 egg, beaten, mixed with 1/3 C melted butter
1/3 C melted butter
1/2 C sugar
1t cinnamon
1/2t vanilla
Combine first 5 ingredients.  Add milk and egg and butter mixture and mix. (by hand)  Fill greased muffin tins about 3/4 full.  Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from pan and dip muffins into melted butter, coating thoroughly.  Roll in mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, and set on rack.  Serve warm.  (They may be reheated; they freeze beautifully.)
Add some sliced (and sugared~ can't wait 'til our local berries are in season~ no sugar needed for those) strawberries, and there you go!  Breakfast for dinner!       

Saturday, March 9, 2013

6 on the 6th!

  Happy Birthday, Kate!

Daddy flew in on the red eye from CO to be home for Princess Kate's birthday and stopped to pick up donuts on the way in.  A sweet start to her day. It was a day full of phone calls from older siblings and grandmas, and hugs and homemade cards from the younger siblings!  A day to be celebrated for the treasure she is! 
As is our family tradition, the birthday child picks the dinner meal out, and this year Kate picked "Cowfish" a burger and sushi bar!  Sort of a surprising pick for our little 6 year old princess, but that's what happens when you have older siblings and are used to eating out with them!

Kate with her b-day dessert~ shared with her 4 siblings
Then it was home to open presents....all perfectly girly~ which is just what our princess loves. 


And then it was time for some cake!
Not surprisingly, Kate was "full" from her dessert at Cowfish, so she didn't want to eat her banana birthday cake, made from her Kit (American Girl Doll) cookbook, but we were at least able to get her to blow out her candles while we sang.

Happy Birthday to our tiny treasure! You are a blessing to our family and so dearly loved! 
And yes, the crown stayed on ALL day!